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German journalist resigns after writing fake stories – including about Fergus Falls

He wrote a piece in March 2017 about the Minnesota city.
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A writer for the respected German magazine, Der Spiegel, has been fired after editors uncovered dozens of stories with featured fabrications – including one about Fergus Falls.

The magazine on Wednesday published a long report following an internal investigation into the articles of Claas Relotius, a 33-year-old investigative journalist.

The magazine said he was found to have committed journalistic fraud "on a grand scale" over several years, according to the Guardian.

Among the articles that he is found to have fabricated concerns one about Fergus Falls, Minnesota, where Relotius spent some time in early 2017 with the intention of writing about a Trump-voting area of America.

"The underpinning idea, originating in the Hamburg news office/editorial office, was not about haughty demonization of the first months of Trump from the perspective of Europeans, but about looking at that time frame through the eyes of those who had presumably voted for Big Don," Der Spiegel says.

"The plan was for Relotius to rent in Fergus Falls, meet people, listen, and record a small time image that would make you understand the Americans a little better."

However, the magazine notes that Relotius found nobody who could give him the story he was looking for, with Der Spiegel writing: "There is simply no story, no one can be found."

But rather than give up and admit this, he started making stuff up, beginning his story by generating a fictional sign at the entrance of the city that read: "Mexicans Keep Out – Mexicans, Stay Away."

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This sign never existed, "it was only in the imagination of the author," and as a result "insulted the inhabitants of Fergus Falls."

Relotius went on to write that students at Kennedy High School were asked to paint models of the American Dream, and he said that all but a few painted Donald Trump.

"All this is a lie, just everything, it's crap," Der Spiegel says.

You can read a portion of the original story here, though it requires subscription to read more.

Relotius in 2014 was named CNN's Journalist of the Year for a piece he wrote about care-giving in U.S. prisons for a Swiss magazine.

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